What is a (Digital) Portfolio?
You’ve spent weeks, months, maybe even years developing skills, studying, and working—now you get to put your results on display.
So, what is a portfolio? An online portfolio (also known as a digital portfolio, electronic portfolio, e-portfolio, or e-folio) is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user, usually on the web. Such electronic evidence may include images, text, electronic files, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks.
Having a positive online presence is a huge advantage when it comes to applying for internships and jobs. Creating a portfolio website allows you to share and showcase your work easily for the employers you want to impress.
An online portfolio will increase your visibility and presence. It’s your chance to tell the world who you are as a creative, and delve into your projects, passions, and experiences. Using the flexibility of an online portfolio, you’re able to show your personality by choosing the design, layout, and the copy you write.
It also makes it easier for clients and potential employers to reach out to you. Especially in the digital age, you want to be able to network and link yourself to others in the most convenient way possible. Since we rely on technology, it’s good to show that you have this online presence.
How to Create a Portfolio
1. Pick the Right Online Platform (Best Free Portfolio Websites)
Wix, WordPress, and Weebly, oh my! There are many websites that allow users to create a free online portfolio straight from their free portfolio website templates.
Here are a few of the best portfolio websites out there right now:
- Wix: An all-in-one website builder that’s perfect for beginners and non-coders. Wix lets you build a professional looking website quickly and easily, providing pre-designed templates, built-in security, and in-house features.
- WordPress: A powerful content management system (CMS), which offers plenty of responsive themes to showcase your work. If you want complete creative control over your portfolio, this is a good option for you.
- Weebly: A drag-and-drop web builder with around 40 modern, fully-customizable website themes and elements.
It is helpful to take a look at online portfolio examples by other people in your specific creative area or industry. For example, if you’re an aspiring artist – try Googling “Art Portfolio Website.” You might find something similar to what you envision, in which case you’ll be able to customize it and make it your own. If you’d rather start from a blank canvas, you can always build your website from scratch and enjoy complete freedom to express yourself online.
2. Keep the Design Simple
When designing a portfolio, you want a website that is straightforward. You want your content to be the focal point, rather than a distracting design. Your actual work is the core of your online portfolio, so make sure to showcase it in the best way possible. It should stand out and be easily reachable through the homepage.
Your homepage is also your chance to stir the curiosity of potential clients and employers with a powerful introductory sentence. Make it short and sweet, clearly expressing who you are and what you do. There’s no need to go into your biographical details here (that’s what your “About” page is for), but your name and main area of expertise are a must.
It’s helpful to add a short written description for each project, so that visitors can get a sense for the context of your work. Mention your role, as well as any of your collaborators.
Run your website by a trusted peer and mentor for some insight and fresh ideas. Get some honest feedback about your content, visuals, and ease of navigation.
3. Choose Quality Over Quantity
Cramming everything you’ve ever done into your personal portfolio may be tempting, but most employers would advise against it. Consider what to put on a personal website, picking only your absolute best pieces to show, trusting them to showcase your strongest work and highlight your talents. Showcasing a limited amount of projects allows you to present each one thoroughly.
Tell the story with less on your portfolio. For example, include links to your top 10 articles, not top 100. Wait for a prospective employer to request the rest. Once someone is interested in your work, you will have plenty of time to give them more information.
Consider listing any distinctive elements that give you an edge, such as press or awards. Having good recommendations is always a big plus so if you can include any of the testimonials from the clients you’ve worked with in the past, it can add a lot of credibility to your online portfolio.
Don’t forget to put emphasis on the types of projects you’d be interested in working on in the future.
4. Update the Mobile Version
People often forget about the huge amount of users who are likely to be viewing their site from a smartphone. In fact, mobile devices account for 52% of web page views worldwide. So it’s important to make sure you’ve devoted time to perfecting their user experience, too.
One of the major challenges designers face when it comes to their online presence is ensuring it will be mobile compatible. And since a mobile website is more than just “web design made smaller,” there are a few rules to keep in mind when designing for mobile.
Best practices for designing your mobile website include:
- Declutter the website version of your site, keeping only the most crucial elements visible on mobile
- Pay attention to the fonts and colors you use and make sure they’re legible
- Reduce the amount of typing required by adding a search bar to ease navigation
5. Make Your Portfolio Searchable
Your beautiful work deserves to be seen online – and the best way to go about it is by upping your SEO (or “Search Engine Optimization”). By following a set of simple rules, you can work towards improving your design portfolio’s ranking on Google search results.
Some of the best practices for improving your portfolio’s SEO are:
- Choose a good domain name. Your domain name is how visitors will find, remember and share your page on the internet. Using something simple like your first and last name, or your creative niche will prove helpful with branding and marketing.
- Do keyword research to find the right keywords for your site. Keywords are the most commonly searched phrases on Google when people are looking for creatives such as yourself. Once you’ve done some keyword research, use these phrases in strategic places throughout your website.
- Write alt text for your images. Short for alternative text, alt text is a brief description of your site’s images and photos. Writing SEO-friendly alt text can also help improve your website’s accessibility. You’re likely to have visual elements on your online portfolio, so use this opportunity to integrate your keywords into your alt text.
- Write titles and descriptions (known as metadata) for each of your design portfolio’s pages.
6. Share Your Contact Information
After you’ve captured a visitor’s attention with your site, make sure they can easily contact you. Add any of the following elements to ensure you’re reachable: a contact form, your email, phone numbers and links to your social media.
These can be featured as part of your menu, in a dedicated contact page or as a pinned element on the side of the screen. It’s also highly recommended to repeat your contact details in your website footer, offering visitors a final invitation to get in touch.
7. Utilize Social Media
Social media is a two-way channel where you have an opportunity to build a rapport with your prospective clients. Social networking is all about interactions, creating open dialogue, and building genuine relationships with your community.
If you want to grow your network, consider including social media buttons in your portfolio as they will be a huge help in building stronger connections and keeping your clients and followers updated at all times.
Including buttons to share your work on social media can help bring more exposure and an audience to your site. Promote your work on social media whenever you add new projects to draw attention to fresh work as well as your overall portfolio.
If you are including your personal social media on your professional online portfolio, remember to keep it professional and appropriate.
8. Keep it Updated
Keep in mind that your work doesn’t end with just creating a great portfolio – make sure to regularly update it. As you create new and better work, make additions to showcase your latest projects, but with the same focus on careful curation.
This will also show visitors that you’re active and working. When first creating an online portfolio, consider how you can build a design portfolio that is easy to update, letting you comfortably add new projects as you go.
A successful portfolio finds that perfect blend of your personality, prominence of work, simplicity, and ease of use that makes your portfolio stand out from the crowd and achieve your goals. A well-made, creative portfolio makes all the difference between making a fine first impression and a truly great one!
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